Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Fury says his government is working to ease barriers for internationally trained doctors as it begins efforts to help newly arrived Ukrainian health care professionals obtain licensure.
Fury speaks to reporters Monday after meeting with several federal ministers and the Atlantic Canadian premier in St. Johns, NL
The meeting was intended to discuss developments in the region, but the reporter’s questions inevitably turned to doctor shortages in all four Atlantic provinces.
The premier said there is “no quick fix” but he and his counterparts agree that it should be easier for foreign doctors to practice in the field, in particular family doctors. Fury referred to the “Perfect Storm”, meaning that foreign-trained doctors are facing more delays in recognizing their credentials, as well as the cries of physicians.
Fury’s comments come as his government is setting up support to help newly arrived Ukrainian health care professionals navigate the province’s licensing requirements.
Newfoundland and Labrador were at the forefront of Canadian efforts to relocate Ukrainians fleeing Russian attacks, even chartering two planes from Poland to St. But last week, Maryina Sikorska, a Ukrainian doctor who arrived in the province on June 14, said she was disappointed by the lack of communication or guidance from government officials. She said she knows other people who feel equally stunned.
Newfoundland and Labrador had the second largest proportion of internationally trained doctors in the country three years ago, according to a report by the Canadian Medical Association. The report said that in 2019, about 37 percent of doctors working in the state were trained in other countries. That number has since dropped to about 29 percent, a spokesman for the province’s medical association said in an email on Monday.
Meanwhile, polling figures released last month from the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association show that nearly a quarter of the province’s 522,875 residents are without a family doctor.
Health Minister Tom Osborne said on Monday that he met with 11 new Ukrainians last Thursday to discuss their concerns with health care expertise. The province has agreed to cover licensing fees for Ukrainians looking to become certified to practice in the province, and the Department of Health will name a nominee to help navigate the licensing process, he said in an interview. said in.
Osborne said officials will offer English classes and work to place Ukrainians in health care jobs while they are licensed, although the jobs will differ from those they qualify for in Ukraine. He said that the government is also looking at providing income support during the licensing process.
“We need health care professionals in this province, and we need to be better and more competitive in attracting and retaining those health care professionals,” Osborne said.
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He added that internationally trained doctors from Ukraine and other countries can help meet this need.
Licensing is a complex process and involves certification from national and provincial bodies, Osborne said. Applicants must also meet language proficiency requirements.
He said the government is working with regulatory bodies including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure the procedure is accessible without compromising standards of practice.
“We don’t want to lower the bar, but we want to lower the odds,” Osborne said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 25, 2022.
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